Volunteer of the Month: Laura Andersen

July 28, 2017

CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Learn more about volunteering and sign up here. Join us at our next volunteer orientation on August 16 at the Ferry Building.

As a new arrival to San Francisco and CUESA in July 2012, Laura Andersen came to CUESA to get involved in the local food community. This month, we are celebrating five years of her ongoing volunteer service with CUESA. She has helped with special events but mainly supports CUESA’s free cooking demos on Saturday mornings.

“Laura is the quiet powerhouse who gets three tasks accomplished by the time you turn around, and who instinctively seems to know what needs to be done,” says Culinary Programs Manager Carrie Sullivan. “She’s unflappable and flexible. Her long tenure as a CUESA volunteer makes her a great teacher and mentor for new volunteers. She is always curious to learn, even if it’s not something she is likely to use in her own personal repertoire. I am so grateful that she continued as a volunteer when I joined CUESA three and a half years ago, as she helped teach and mentor me as well!” Meet Laura.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Laura: Ever since I was a kid, I have loved to cook. As I got older, I started to want to learn more about where the food comes from and other very important issues like sustainable agriculture, urban agriculture, food insecurity, and food deserts.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?

Laura: For work, I’m a development officer for UCSF in the areas of women’s health, diabetes, and basic science. Also I am very involved with Bay Leaf Kitchen as a board member and passionate volunteer.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?

Laura: There are so many things, like being able to explore the market early before the hustle and bustle of the crowds begin; the other volunteers and CUESA staff; being in the know about what amazing produce is in season at the moment. But my most favorite part about volunteering with CUESA is the opportunity to meet and work with the local chefs! As a volunteer, I’ve worked with so many insanely talented, kind, and passionate chefs over the years. Being able to learn from them first hand and in this amazing setting is such a wonderful experience.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?

Laura: Tomatoes! Before I moved to California I didn’t care much for tomatoes because I’d only ever had flavorless, generic tomatoes. My world changed once I started to learn about the varieties available at the market and taste the juicy, flavorful, beautifully ripened tomatoes available. Now I can’t get enough of them and get so excited when summer rolls around and the first tomatoes appear in the market. For a tip, don’t be afraid to talk to the farmer and ask questions about the produce like how best to prepare the produce, how to store it, etc. They’re the most knowledgeable, and there’s nothing better than learning straight from the source.